Re: Color for international communication

Subject: Re: Color for international communication
From: Andreas Ramos <andreas -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 1994 11:36:30 -0800

On Mon, 21 Mar 1994, Young Kim wrote:
> Does anyone know of specific works or have personal experience(s)
> with using colors and communicating with an international audience,
> that is, non-U.S. readers, in technical documents or presentations?

Dear Young,
That's one of the things I do. Localization (the adaptation of software
to a local market in the global marketplace) is about the cultural
considerations of all aspects of communications.
Color is one of these issues. White is clean to Americans, but is the
color of death to Japanese (Americans have black hearses for a funeral;
Japanese dress in white for a funeral. An American wedding looks like a
funeral procession to a Japanese.)(But American wedding dresses have
penetrated Japan, so it is becoming accepted as a special instance.)

There isn't a complete guide to color for every culture, every instance,
every situation. Just try to describe color just for the American market!
Red is erotic, is the stop sign, is danger, is attention. It depends
on the situation. Now do this for every culture! It's impossible.
For Chinese, red is lucky (which explains the crimson red in Chinese

The best thing to do with a manual is to map out the colors, explain the
intended significance, and then check with the local distributors (who
MUST be natives, ie. not transplanted American managers) and get their

Andreas Ramos, M.A. Heidelberg Sacramento, California

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